CHAMPCAR/CART: Pit strategy and luck gives Franchitti win in Vancouver

Pit strategy and a bunch of broken carbon fiber gave Dario Franchitti his first win of the season at the Molson Indy Vancouver. Paul Tracy, who lead most of the race, was second. Tony Kanaan, who has dropped out of many races while running high...

Pit strategy and a bunch of broken carbon fiber gave Dario Franchitti his first win of the season at the Molson Indy Vancouver. Paul Tracy, who lead most of the race, was second. Tony Kanaan, who has dropped out of many races while running high in the order, got his best finish of the season with third. Points leader and pole sitter Cristiano da Matta went out of the race with a broken drive shaft.

Attrition for the race, held on the streets of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, was very high. Only seven cars were running at the end and three of the finishers were involved in incidents that took cars out of the event. Cooler temperatures caused problems with the tires and that lead directly to one of those incidents.

When not under a yellow or red flag, the race for the lead was a battle between da Matta and Tracy with Franchitti following close behind. da Matta initially held the lead until Tracy, who opted for a different pit strategy, stayed out when da Matta went into the pits. Franchitti pitted at the same time as da Matta. Current CART rules require drivers to pit after a certain number of laps. Tracy was betting that yellow flag would come out before he needed to pit. When that did not happen, Tracy had lost the race.

The race started under the yellow flag. Michel Jourdain spun the car trying to get heat into the tires, hit the wall and stalled the car. He got the car restarted and went into the pits to get a new wing, however, they could not get the wing installed quickly enough to avoid going a lap down, so he left the pits and came around again. While doing this, he ran over an air hose and had to do a stop-and-go penalty. Including routine stops, he ended up doing seven pit stops. Despite this, he finished fourth.

Almost as soon as the track went green, the yellow flag came back out. Christian Fittipaldi, Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser came together in a way that put Vasser and Kenny Brack out of the race. Vasser attributed the incident to a brake problem on his car. Andretti continued on and made several visits to the pits to get his car repaired. Later in the race, Tori Takagi made an unsuccessful pass attempt on him in turn six that put both of them into the tires. Takagi was out and Andretti continued on. He had to make a few more trips to the pits for repairs. After ten pit stops, Andretti finished sixth.

Between Andretti's two incidents, Scott Dixon had a suspension failure that was very similar to the one suffered by teammate Bruno Junqueira in Friday qualifying. The suspension collapsed and Dixon amazingly kept the car off of the walls.

Later in the race, at almost the exact same time, teammates da Matta and Christian Fittipaldi suffered mechanical failures.

Shinji Nakano was having a good race, dicing with Tony Kanaan for third, but he had to stop for a final pit stop, which broke off the battle. After that, he brought out the yellow flag by backing the car into the tires at the exit for turn six. Coming out of that yellow flag, the stage was set for a short dash to the finish. Then the "big accident" occurred.

Patrick Carpentier got sideways at the beginning of the back straight, which resulted in a big mess for all of the cars following behind him. Amazingly, Carpentier himself managed to save it from hitting the wall and continued down the road and eventually finished fifth. Alex Tagliani, Adrian Fernandez and Bruno Junqueira were not so lucky. All three spun. Tagliani hit the wall and continued down the road. Fernandez and Junqueira hit the wall and stopped. Unfortunately, Tagliani's car was actually too damaged to continue. The front left suspension collapsed and rolled under the car. Michel Jourdain managed to avoid Carpentier's initial spin.

Tagliani and Junquiera came through unscathed, but Fernandez had to be extracted from the car. His injuries were minor, but he was taken to the hospital for precautionary x-rays.

The race was red-flagged and later resumed with a five lap dash to the finish.

As a result of this race, the championship has tightened up. Points leader da Matta scored minimal points and Dario Franchitti moved up to second, 38 points behind.

Adrian Fernandez medical update

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain